RIP: John Caldwell, 1946-2016

February 22nd, 2016, 10:30 am by Greg


By Greg Haymes
Photograph by Sara Ayers

He was a seriously funny guy…

A proud member of the Usual Gang of Idiots at Mad magazine, Ballston Lake cartoonist-illustrator John Caldwell died early Sunday morning (February 21) following a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 69 years old.

A Cohoes native who graduated from Hudson Valley Community College and later attended NYC’s Parsons School of Design, Caldwell was a definite outside-the-box thinker when it came to the art world and his cartoons, which appeared everywhere from Playboy to Women’s World; from Rolling Stone to The National Enquirer; and from The New Yorker to The National Lampoon to The Wall Street Journal. His unique take on funny transcended the usual low art vs. high art boundaries.

As a syndicated cartoonist his singular single-panel gems were published in daily newspapers around the country, including The Albany Times Union. He also published a half dozen books, including “Running A Muck: A Bunch of Zany” Cartoons (Writer’s Digest Books, 1978); “Mug Shots: A Splendid Collection of Cartoons” (Fantaco, 1980); “The Book of Ultimates” (McGraw-Hill, 1983); “Caldwell” (Fawcett Columbine, 1988); “Fax This Book: Over 100 Sit-Up-and-Take-Notice Cover Sheets for Better Business” (Workman, 1990).

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Mad Magazine’s John Caldwell Calendar

December 11th, 2012, 2:00 pm by Greg

Mad Magazine’s John Caldwell Calendar 2012
What, me worry?

The cover of the current issue of Mad Magazine features a curiously familiar gap-toothed character posing as the love child of Twilight’s Bella and Edward… while a quizzical wolf looks on. It is, of course, the ever-present, Alfred E. Newman – instantly recognizable, as he’s been since the beginning – 60 years ago. That’s right, Mad Magazine has been doing the skewering the sacred and celebration of the silly since its first issue back in 1952.

But what we were hoping to find lurked deep inside the inner recesses of the issue – rather prominently, in fact. It’s a two-page, pull-out, center-fold, 2013 calendar created by Ballston Lake’s own cartoonist sublime, John Caldwell.

Caldwell has long been one of the Mad elite – an inner circle member of “the Usual Gang of Idiots.”

But wait… if you’re one of those non-fun-lovers who mistakenly think that Mad is about as low as you can get on the art world totem pole, consider that Mr. Caldwell has also had his work prominently printed in the prestigious pages of The New Yorker – perhaps the ultimate high for a cartoonist – Writer’s Digest, Playboy, Barron’s, The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest and Harvard Business Review. Additionally, his artwork was featured on the pages of newspapers all across the country (back in the days before print was dead).

And in conjunction with Schenectady photographer Martin Benjamin, back in the early ’80s – when he was desperate for money to fuel his ink habit – he also created the artwork for Blotto’s Combo Akimbo album cover and their music video for “Metal Head.”

So pick up a copy of Mad Magazine and spend your 2013 with Caldwell cartoon characters… unless, of course, the world really does end on December 21. In which case, as Rosanne Roseannadanna used to say, “Never mind…”

RIP: Ralph Sherry, 1946-2011

August 19th, 2011, 10:30 am by Greg
Ralph Sherry

Musician, sound engineer and recording studio owner, Ralph Sherry passed away last week at the age of 65.

Sherry played bass in numerous Nippertown bands, including the Motions, Fox and the Cosmic Messengers. In the early ’70s he began focusing on his audio engineering skills. He became co-founder of This Is a Recording studios in Schenectady, which in 1975 evolved into Cathedral Sound Studio in Rensselaer.

At Cathedral, Sherry worked with his audio magic for various NYS government departments, a wide variety of ad agencies and countless musicians – both national and local – including Dizzy Gillespie, Rory Block, the Byrds, Maria Riccio Bryce, Blotto, the New York State Youth Orchestra and many others.

Here’s is his obituary in the Albany Times Union. Calling hours for Ralph Sherry are 4-6pm on Sunday (August 21) at the Betz, Rossi & Bellinger Family Funeral Home in Amsterdam. A memorial service will take place at 5pm.

UPDATE: John Caldwell sent in this illustration he did for a poster for Fox in the mid-seventies, here reproduced on the band manager’s business card.

Fox Business card

Caffe LenaThe Cock'N'Bull RestaurantHolly & EvanJim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysCartoonist John CaldwellAdvertise on Nippertown!Hudson SoundsArtist Charles HaymesThe LindaAustralian Cattle Dog Rescue Association